How do you know you have a good boss?

Adjusting to the workplace can be a struggle after being able to sit in the back of the classroom for 4 years, having minimal interactions with classmates or professors. Professional communication and learning to work with others is something that can’t be taught in school and is something that you develop throughout your career. Communication between coworkers and bosses can be uncomfortable or difficult, but I was lucky enough to attend a seminar that taught me how to develop good communication skills in the workplace.

The Smithsonian provided a short one-day seminar on Emotional Intelligence. I’m not sure most people (or college student at least) are familiar with the term. Wikipedia defines it as “the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.” This sounds easy enough, right?

Wrong! If properly communicating and controlling your emotions at work or school were so easy, there wouldn’t be so many bad bosses out there. During the seminar, we went around the room and shared experiences we’ve had working with unpleasant bosses. There’s the passive aggressive boss who says you’re doing great but talks about you behind your back; there’s the boss that can’t keep his/her cool when bad results come in; and there’s the awkward boss who avoids talking to his/her employees and doesn’t make eye contact when speaking to them. The list goes on and on.

Problem Bosses

So, how do you know you have a good boss? One sign is that they often make jokes about themselves. This means that they are confident and secure enough to make themselves vulnerable in the office. They are willing to lighten the mood and laugh a little. Another sign is if your boss can sense when you’re having an off day. They will usually come by your desk and see what’s bothering you or let you go home a little early. Bosses who treat you like a human being and not a machine are the keepers that make you feel like you belong at work.

The point of attending this seminar was to learn how to be an effective leader in the workplace and eventually be a good boss. There are five important things to keep in mind:

1. Self Awareness: get some feedback every once in a while and see how you come off to others. Know what ticks you off so that you can handle those situations when they arise. Knowing your own weaknesses keeps you one step ahead.

2. Empathy: being sensitive of others’ emotions and feelings. This is different from compassion, which is sharing the feelings of the other person. Empathy is having the understanding of those feelings and determining how best to handle the situation for everyone involved.

3. Self-Confidence: be pleasant and outgoing even if you have to work at it. Just by greeting everyone in your office is enough to show a positive and friendly attitude!

4. Motivation: the ability to stay motivated yourself and to have the ability to motivate others without force. Be inspiring!

5. Self-Control: even when you’re stressed out and have no patience left, do your best to stay calm and collected.keep-calm-and-stay-positive-106


Even if you’re not yet in an office environment, these tips are helpful in all circumstances ranging from issues with friends to a messy group project. When in doubt- emotional intelligence.